Nobody expects the Arizona Coyotes to win this game against the Minnesota Wild despite coming off of a big win over the Seattle Kraken. However, sometimes all it takes is one win to get back on track in hockey, and the Coyotes will hope to show that tonight.
It definitely won’t be an easy one for the Coyotes, as the Wild are 8-3-0 on the season and currently riding a three-game winning streak. They do a great job at shutting down team’s offenses with their amazing defense and trap system, which isn’t necessarily the greatest news for a team that is dead last in goals per game, shots on goal per game, and shooting percentage. Yeah, not good at all.
The Coyotes will also hope to build off a successful powerplay last game, in which they went one-for-one. It’s been an aspect of their game that has struggled this season, as it ranks 28th in the entire NHL at 10.7%. Tonight is the perfect game to do it, as although the Wild are great defensively at even-strength, they struggle on the penalty-kill and are ranked 23rd with a 75.6%.
It’ll be interesting to see if we see Karel Vejmelka or Scott Wedgewood in net tonight. Vejmelka has been the Coyotes’ MVP for most of the season but allowed both shots he faced through just 58 seconds last game, and Wedgewood had to come in relief and get the win for Arizona. Craig Morgan reported yesterday that Karel Vejmelka will be starting, and hopefully, he will be in net for the full game.
The Wild have Cam Talbot in net. It’s shocking to say this, but they’d have an even better record this season if the Wild had more consistent goaltending. Yes, better than 8-3-0. Talbot just hasn’t been the greatest, as he is currently rocking a .904 SV% to go with a -4.09 goals saved above expected, which is ranked seventh-worst in the entire NHL. Perhaps if the Coyotes can crack through the Wild’s defense, they can take advantage of that.
I doubt Coyotes fans will be disappointed if they can’t manage to squeeze out a win, as they continue to send their prayers towards winning the lottery and landing illustrious prospect Shane Wright. However, you have to keep in mind that a complete and utter tank usually isn’t great for the team and can even create a toxic culture, as we saw with the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel situation. So, even if the team is losing, we need to see some certain improvements at the very least before players’ confidence is thrown out the window.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Lawson Crouse - Crouse is coming off of a multi-goal game over Seattle, including the final-minute game-winning goal. He’s a physical presence, which is something the Coyotes will need if they plan on competing against a hard-nosed Wild team.
Minnesota: Ryan Hartman - Hartman has been playing out of his mind this season. He currently has seven points (6 goals, 1 assist) through 11 games played and leads the Wild in wins above replacement with 5.20. He’s coming off a two-point effort over the New York Islanders and has scored in his last two games.
Arizona: Carter Hutton (IR - Lower-Body), Alex Galchenyuk (IR - Upper-Body), Ryan Dzingel (IR - Upper-Body), Nick Schmaltz (IR - Upper-Body), Conor Timmins (IR - Knee)
Minnesota: Jordan Greenway (IR -Lower-Body), Matthew Boldy (IR-NR - Ankle)
The game will be at the Gila River Arena at 7:00 PM and can be seen on TNT and on 620 AM.